Timaru made bricks - Shears' Brickyard
 

J.S. "turn out the best"
 

Walking around Timaru you will note there are plenty of red brick buildings and red brick fences which is not surprising as Timaru has a long history of brickyards. In 1861 there were five brickmakers in South Canterbury manufacturing sun dried bricks but it wasn't until James Shears arrived that this local industry gathered momentum. James Shears commenced making bricks in Timaru in 1874 but in 1887 the Shears family sold the works but left the kiln. The brickyard continued to produce bricks in College Road until 1970. In 1972 the Kentish round kiln and chimney were demolished. Some of the following buildings used Shears' bricks include: Empire Hotel, Mercy College, Theatre Royal, drains under Royal Arcade, The Club Hotel (the bricks were made on site - a clamp firing), the house they lived in on Buchanan Street and other buildings in Temuka and Christchurch. In 1908 there was still four brickmakers in the area; two in Timaru, one in Waimate and one at Saltwater Creek.


Dalgety, a stock and station firm at the back. The Club Hotel, corner of George St. and Stafford St., Timaru  begin demolished in 1971. Built of brick made and fired on site (Clamp Kiln) by James Shears before College Road yard and Hoffman Kiln.  A Chinese restaurant put there that has glass windows floor to ceiling and people having meals look out on to the main street.

James Shears from Railway Rd, Croydon, sailed on Carrick Castle, from Gravesend to Otago, 30 March 1871 by himself.  In 1874 he sent for his family to immigrate to New Zealand and twelve relatives travelled on the Waitangi leaving London 1st August 1874 and arrived in Auckland 20 Nov. 1874. On board was Frederick BOYCE, age 22, from Surrey, who had married 19 Oct. 1873 in Bromley, Kent, England to Mary Elizabeth SHEARS, age 19. They were colonial nominated for Timaru by someone in NZ, probably James Shears. See their ticket and the passenger list page 10 & page 11. James' father Samuel SHEARS married Hannah Matilda Stacey in Kent, in 1839 also arrived on the Waitangi. Samuel and Hannah had 11 children who were all born in England. The entire family migrated to Timaru where they were involved in the brick making business. Samuel Shears age 50 from Kent, a labourer, Hannah age 48, Alfred age 20, William age 19, Robert age 12. William worked in the Brickworks in Timaru before 1899 then he moved to the North Island. Also on board was Henry Shears, age 24, labourer from Surrey, his wife Mary, age 23, children James age 5, Frances (f), age 3 and Samuel age 5 months. Another brother Ben and family left London in November 1879 on the Westland and arrived in Lyttelton 90 days later on 21st Feb. 1880. That family consisted of: Benjamin Shears b. Clapham 1848, age 32, and his wife Annie Cooke, age 28, married in 1873 at Attcliffe, Yorkshire and their children Benjamin Cooke (5), James (3) & Annie Emma (1). They had 13 children in all. They settled in Timaru and Ben joined his brother James in the brick making enterprise as he was a brickmaker from Surrey.

Elizabeth Hawke QUINN b. 18 March 1881, Lower Hutt, Wellington, NZ and died 1920 in Makikihi.
m. Benjamin Cooke SHEARS b. 14 Oct 1874, Croyden, Surrey, England
Children:
1.Myrtle Alexandria Elizabeth SHEARS b. 14 Sep. 1906, Geraldine, d. 22 Feb 1959, Ashburton
 +Frederick James COATES , m. 12 Mar 1929
2. Hilda SHEARS b. 15 Nov 1908, Waimate, d.19 Jul 1999, Oamaru
3. Muriel SHEARS b. 02 Mar 1915, Waimate


The Belford Steam Flour Mill was erected by at the end of North-street in 1878 with a frontage of 42ft on the beach. It consists of four storeys, and one interesting matter connected with it is that all the bricks used in its construction, are of Timaru manufacture Mr Shears being the maker. Photo taken by Paula Jan. 2012, 134 years later.

Airey, Joseph, a labourer, wife and three children immigrants per the Victory. James' wife, Mary nee Airy, parents arrived in Timaru on the "Victory" in October 1863 and settled in Sandietown so James selected the locale of Timaru so his wife could be close to her parents.

Timaru Herald, 16 December 1890, Page 3
Captain Woollcombe, Acting Coroner, held an inquest at the courthouse yesterday on the body found the harbour in Sunday. The following was the jury Messrs J. Shepherd (foreman), W. Tutton, J. Ogilvie, W. H. Butterworth, W. Collins, A. Bloomfield, and C. Green. The jury having viewed the, body Sergeant Major Mason called Mary Shears, who stated that she was the wife of James Shears and sister of John Airey. She last saw him about on the 26th November at 11 a.m. He seemed to be in his usual health and spirits. He was 42 years of age and was born in England. His father was a Joseph Airey and his mother was Margaret Airey. He resided twenty-six years in this colony and was not married. She identified the body as that of her brother by the clothing. He owned a cottage on an acre of ground in Sandietown. Her mother resided there, and deceased used to reside with her. He seemed a little troubled because he could not obtain work. This did not effect him enough to give any anxiety. He was addicted at times to drink, and was generally employed as a bricklayer's labourer. Dr Reid stated that he bed examined the body and did not see any marks about the skull to cause death. Saw the body in the sea before it was removed. The body was considerably battered by the action of the sea, but there were no marks to show that any violence had been used. It looked as if deceased was merely drowned. W. H. Collie, diver in the employment of the Harbour Board, stated that he had known deceased John Airey. Saw him last on November 26th at 5 p.m. at the Club Hotel corner. He was quite sober. Just spoke to him, and did not, notice anything particular about him. W. M. Thompson, contractor and builder, stated that he knew deceased, John Airey. Had known him and his relatives for 10 or 11 years. Saw him last on November 26th at Gabites' corner at 12 30 p m. spoke to him and told him that he would be able to give him work in a few days. Deceased was perfectly sober and complained a little about want of work. Knew from his sister Mary Shears that deceased had not come home on Wednesday night. J. Snoswell, stevedore, stated that he knew the deceased John Airey. Helped the police to recover the body on Sunday night, and recognised it by the clothes as that of John Airey. Saw him last alive on November 26th and spoke to him. He appeared to be rather low-spirited. He said that he would be found floating about the harbour some day. William Hallett, son of Constable Hallett, 17 years of age, said that at a quarter to eight o'clock on Sunday evening he was sitting on the North Mole with another lad. Saw a body on the rocks and at once gave information to the police. Constable Hallett stated that he searched the body of deceased after it had been brought to the police station and found only a leather thumb protector used by bricklayers' labourers. This concluded the evidence. After consultation the following verdict was given by the jury that the body we have viewed is that of John Airey, but there is no evidence to show how he fell into the water."

Timaru Herald, 31 January 1884, Page 2
Airy — On the 3rd January, at the residence of his son-in-law, Henry Burgess, North street, Joseph Airey, aged 63 years.
Alice and Henry Burgess married in 1871.

On Sunday, Feb. 25th 1900 at his residence, Buchanan's Paddock, Timaru, Samuel Shears, aged 83 years.
Monday 31 July 1899 - On July 30th, at her residence, Buchanan street, Timaru, Hannah, the beloved wife of Samuel Shears; aged 81 years.

Northern Advocate 10 October 1919, Page 2
The death occurred in Timaru on Tuesday last of Mrs Mary Shears, widow of the late James Shears, at one time a well-known brickyard proprietor, in Canterbury, and mother of Mrs Reg. Alexander, of Whangarei. News of her illness was received on Monday and Mrs Alexander left for the South on Tuesday by the Manaia, but unfortunately arrived too late. Mrs Shears has been a resident of Timaru for over 50 years, having arrived there from England as a girl with her parents. She was of a quiet and retiring disposition, but beloved and respected by all who had the privilege of her friendship. Mr Shears died in England last February during the epidemic.

Timaru Herald, 11 September 1876, Page 3
Inquest. — On Saturday last an inquest was held by B. Woollcombe, Esq., Coroner, at the residence of Mr Henry Shears, near the Town Belt, Timaru, on the death of Samuel Shears, a child of two an a-half years old, who was drowned in a creek on the previous Thursday evening. After hearing the evidence, which went to show that no blame was attached to anyone, the jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased was accidentally drowned. [Samuel came out on the Waitangi when he was five months old].

Samuel Shears, brickmaker, died in Timaru in 1904.

Timaru Herald 13 Nov. 1874 pg1 Col. c
Timaru Herald 13 Nov. 1874 og1 col. c

 

Timaru Herald, 10 February 1875, Page 3
Civil case. J. Shears v. H. Thornton, claim £20.
Mr Hamersley appeared for defendant. James Shears deposed: I am a brickmaker. The defendant bought bricks of me to use in a sub-contract under Mr E. Green, at Mr Elworthy's house. He paid me from time to time on account, and for the balance, £23 15s, he gave me an order on Mr Green. I presented the order upon the first opportunity, and asked for payment several times without success, so I have had to fall back on defendant. John McGregor was called as a witness and sworn, but owing to the ignorance of the plaintiff to conduct his case, no evidence was adduced. Henry Thornton, defendant, said Plaintiff supplied me with bricks and I paid him several sums on account. He came to me for the balance, and threatened to sue me if I did not give him an order (produced) on Mr Green for the amount On the 11th of December last, about six months after giving the order, I received the produced notice that plaintiff held me responsible for the amount, as Mr Green had dishonored the order. In the interval between the giving of order and receiving the notice I have bought bricks from plaintiff, and paid for them (receipt produced). He never mentioned anything about the order, that it was dishonored. Mr Green was declared a bankrupt on the 9th December. Mr Hamersley quoted from several authorities to prove that when notice of the dishonor of a cheque or order was not given to the drawer before either the failure of the Bank or insolvency of the drawee, the drawer was exonerated from liability. His Worship, in giving judgment, said that plaintiff, having received the order in payment, ought to have given notice to the defendant that the order had Green dishonored. Judgment for defendant with counsel's fee.

Southland Times 16 August 1877, Page 2
Artesian Wells. Another artesian supply of water has been discovered in Timaru, this time in a brickyard. After boring through 20ft of clay, 14ft of blue rock, 10ft of strong clay, and 16ft of shingle, the men employed came upon another bed of clay, when the water rapidly rose to within 20 feet of the surface and cannot be got under, giving: a large, and never failing supply of pure water. 

Timaru Herald, 20 November 1877, Page 2
WANTED — A SANDSTOCK BRICKMAKER, to Work a Fullhanded Stool. Constant, Work for a Steady Hand. Apply, James Shears, Timaru

Timaru Herald, 3 December 1877, Page 1
BRICKS. BRICKS. BRICKS. The undersigned, having a Large Stock of Superior Clamp Burnt BRICKS on hand, is prepared to SELL at a REDUCED PRICE untill further notice. Bricks forwarded by Rail to any part at Town Prices.
JAMES SHEARS, Timaru

Timaru Herald, 9 December 1884, Page 1
Brickmaker. HOFFMANN'S PATENT BRICKS. ALWAYS ON HAND—
Best Burn Bricks also, Fresh Flare LIME. Good water supplied to Suburbs.
Shears Stream Brick and Lime works. Near Domain.


Timaru Herald 4 Dec. 1878


Northern Advocate 22 October 1919, Page 5
Still another evidence of the progress of the North is to be found in the establishment of a well-equipped brickyard at Otonga by Mr James Shears, who is now in a position to supply bricks in any quantity. The Shears family have been in the brickmaking business, father and son, for many years and their motto has always been "turn out the best.'' Mr Shears states that suitable clay has been found and he is able to turn out a first-class article and his prices will be kept down to allow only for a small margin of profit. He points out that sufficient bricks can be provided for a six-roomed house for £65 and he has already substantial orders on hand. Builders will doubtless be glad to encourage local industry.


Brick with J S in the 'frog'. Around Timaru also look out for bricks with R.S. 

Timaru Herald, 24 March 1879, Page 2
Shears' Brickyard -Timaru. The increase and progress of the various industries in South Canterbury has been so uniform and so unmarked by failure, that people have come to look upon any new enterprise m developing our wealth of raw material with a certain amount of apathy, and seem almost unaware of the gigantic strides being made in our local industries. We are always loth to draw public attention to any industry of an ephemeral character, and abstain from doing so as much as possible. It is with great pleasure that we now lay before our readers an account, of a well-established and flourishing industry, viz., the brick -yards of Mr James Shears, as furnished by our special reporter. The most extensive brick-yard, and that which gives employment to the greatest number of hands in South Canterbury is owned by Mr James Shears, and is situated just beyond the West Town Belt, and with a frontage on what is known as the College road. Over an extent of some twenty acres the clay can be taken to a depth on the average of twenty feet, and being worked from a face, the raw material for the bricks is obtained with a minimum of labor, and the supply is practically inexhaustible.


Shears brickyard c.1875 just beyond the West Town Belt, and with a frontage on what is known as the College road with a horse whim. Samuel (at back) with hat. Alf, Robert, James (who started it all) and Henry, wheeling barrow with 32 green bricks. ( Photo from Timaru Library). Photo courtesy of John Shears. The barrow in the photo is loaded with 32 green bricks, heavy but manageable because of the barrow design. The yard used iron plates to ease the barrows progress to the drying shed and later to the kiln.

The clay as it falls from the bank is piled in heaps, and water is turned on to it till the whole mass is soaked. After lying for a few days, or till thoroughly softened by the water, it is wheeled in large barrows to the pug mills, of which there are three of the most improved construction. In these mills the clay is thoroughly reduced to a fine, plastic mass, almost as soft to the touch as dough. The mills are so constructed as to spread this soft mass evenly over a table, ready for the moulders' hands. The barrows used in removing the green bricks are what are known as "Cockney crowding barrows," and each can carry sixty of the bricks. The peculiarity of their construction is that all the weight rests over the wheel, and so very little effort is required to move them. A great feature in this yard is the care and thought bestowed in saving effort and all heavy labor. An instance of this is noted in the lone narrow iron plates that run in all directions about the yard. Wooden planks, after having been used for a short time, get rough, and then the barrows run heavily. These iron plates are always smooth, almost indestructible, and save labor in wheeling the barrows, and in not requiring to be removed to allow drays to pass. Boys are employed in removing the bricks from the pug mills as fast as they leave the moulders' hands. As soon as the barrows are loaded they are ran off, and the bricks are stacked in long lines on the flats to dry. After they have been out a few days, and hardened, they are turned over again, and opened out, and left to finish drying. When thoroughly dry they are removed to the kiln.  


Hoffman Kiln Shears Brickyard (Timaru Herald Files)

The old fashioned way of burning bricks in clamps has been superseded by various patented methods, the best of which in that of Hoffmann, which, as far as can be learnt, is a very model of economy in fuel and time. The kiln in this yard is an improvement on Hoffmann's old patent, and is what is now known as Hoffmann's Improved Patent. From the outside it appears as a circular mound, from the centre of which rises a massive square chimney, eighty-five feet in height. This mound, as I have called the kiln, rises about eleven feet, and is flat-topped. Workman are at present employed in roofing it in. Entering by one of the numerous arched ways, we at once find ourselves in a warm atmosphere, and in an arched chamber seven feet high and twelve feet wide. This arched chamber it the kiln— it runs quite round the central chimney, and it is a little over two hundred and forty feet in length. From the inner sides of the walls, flues run m towards the chimney, and narrow passages about six inches square run up to the outside. The bricks are wheeled mat the arched entrances, and stacked ready for burning. As soon as the proper quantity of bricks are in, the end of the stack is closed with a screen of brown paper, thus preventing any back draft towards the bricks drying in the next compartment. By a very simple, yet ingenious arrangement of dampers, the air passes through the last lot of bricks burnt, cooling these bricks, and itself getting heated and dry before it goes to feed the fire m the lot burning. The heated air from the burning bricks passes on and makes the next lot almost red hot. As soon as it is necessary to burn further round in the kiln, dampers are raised, and a piece of flaming tow cast from above burns off the paper screen, and allows the hot air to pass further along, and thoroughly dry the last lot of bricks put in, and so the fire travels continually round. From this it will readily be seen that there is a perfect economy of heat. Another advantage, too, of this plan is that the green bricks are most thoroughly dried before the fire touches them, and to this the fact that the bricks are turned out in such excellent condition and without shakes is due. Ascending to the top of the kiln, we are received by the man who attends to the firing, and who explains to us in clear terms the method of burning. The fire burning the bricks is fed from the top. All round over the top of the kiln are bell-shaped iron cups covering the square holes mentioned above, and down these square holes the coal is thrown to the fires. As the fireman lifts the covering, we glance down into the kiln and see the fire glowing, red, and dull, like a slumbering volcano. A few coals are thrown down, and he passes on to the next, first, however, drawing a few ashes round the cover to prevent improper access of air. The coal required is placed round the top of the kiln, where it gets quite dry before it is used. Mr Shears imports his own coal. Newcastle slack is used at present, but native coal, if of good quality, would answer quite as well. All the year through the number of hands employed averages thirty. Three large drays are constantly employed in carting away the bricks, which are dispatched in all directions, north and south, and I am assured that wherever they have been used they have, from their uniform good quality, given the greatest satisfaction, and I am assured by Mr Shears that no complaint as to faultiness or slack burning has been heard since the kiln has been at work. About 72,000 bricks can be turned out at the pug mills every week. As the kiln burns about 60,000, this allows a quantity to accumulate, so that in case of bad weather there would always be a stock on hand to burn from. In one huge pile near the road there are 500,000 bricks. This lot is kept as a reserve stock, so that in case any sudden demand for a large quantity should come in there would be no delay in supplying the order. A drying shed 160ft x 60ft has just been completed, and another of the same size is in course of construction. These will cover 100,000 bricks. A Yankee wind force pump raises the water used, and sends it through pipes to any spot desired. The well from which the water is drawn has been sunk through the solid rock, and now furnishes an inexhaustible supply. We are authorised by Mr Shears to state that, should suitable day for pottery be found in the neighborhood of Timaru in such quantities as to warrant his doing so, he would commence the manufacture of all kinds of earthenware. In conclusion we may state it as our opinion that the success and welfare of Timaru is due in a great measure to our having among us such enterprising and energetic men as Mr James Shears.


Thousands of bricks a week came off the land during the 19th and 20th centuries, produced by brickmakers including Timaru Steam Brickworks and South Canterbury Brickworks. Go to Google Earth and put in College Road off Craigie Avenue you get a very clear view of the area where the brickworks operated and the clay soil. It is the large green area on the south side of College Road opposite Buchanan and Cain Streets. The house they lived in was on Buchanan Street. The TGHS sports ground is to the left. Bob Cooper established a kiln in College Rd in 1908 and started making bricks. He had married the d/o Samuel Shears. 

Buchanan's Paddock

George Buchanan established a flour mill at Willowbridge and owned a paddock on the south side of Timaru where he kept horses. In 1874 George Buchanan offered 34 allotments for sale privately, a subdivision named Buchanan's Paddock, divided in ½ acre sections. It was located between the Town Belt (Craigie Ave) on the east, and Cain St. on the west and on the south College Rd and Hassell St with RC Convent adjacent and Buchanan St cutting it in half.

Timaru Herald, 6 March 1874, Page 3
A very respectable sum has been collected by lady teachers of the St. Mary's Church' Church Sunday school, to provide the annual treat to the scholars. The affair will be held to-day Mr Buchanan's paddock, near Timaru, and the children are requested to master there at 2.30 p.m. 

Timaru Herald, 3 December 1898, Page 1
The undersigned, on behalf of himself and Family, begs to Publicly Thank Dr. Drew for his kindness and attention our their mother. She is over eighty years of age, and has been blind for seven years. He having performed a Delicate and Painless Operation on her eyes, she can now see, which is a fitting testimony to his skill and ability. We join in our gratitude for the valuable and able services rendered.
ALFRED SHEARS, Buchanan's Paddock, Timaru.

Timaru Herald, 11 October 1877, Page 2
A BARGAIN ¼ acre land, in Buchanan's Paddock, with 5-roomod Brick HOUSE, on cost terms. KING & RAINE, Land and Estate Agents.

Timaru Herald, 20 August 1881, Page 3
MOSS JONAS has been instructed to Sell by Public Auction, at his Sale Rooms, Timaru, on Monday August 22nd, 1881. ONE QUARTER OF AN ACRE of Freehold Land, being the southern half of Allotment No. 11, Buchanan's Paddock, and adjoining the Property of Mr Thomas Harney, with a three-roomed Cottage, Underground Tank, and other improvements thereon. Sale at 2 o'clock. MOSS JONAS, 18au Auctioneer. FREEHOLD SECTIONS.

Timaru Herald, 29 October 1884, Page 4
STRAYED. CAME ASTRAY into my Garden on Friday Inst, a Black and tan SHEEP DOG, foxed. The owner can have the same by paying expenses. JOHN GILLESPIE, Buchanan's Paddock.

Timaru Herald, 7 October 1887, Page 4
For Sale: Quarter-acre Section and good brick Cottage in Buchanan's Paddock.

Timaru Herald, 30 October 1883, Page 2
About half-past ten o'clock last evening a pair of horses in a four wheeled carriage which was standing in front of the Theatre Royal, started off quietly on their own account' along the Main South road, but on reaching Edininson and Kidwill's they made a bolt, tearing along at a terrific pace. Much to the alarm of pedestrians and others, they continued their course to the Side School corner, which they turned, and proceeded along College Road until they got opposite Mr Shears' brickyard. At this spot there is a waterhole the left-hand side of the road, the surface of the water being considerably below the road level, and it appears that they ran into this and capsized the carriage. Mr John Newton, who lives in the neighborhood, came to our office about one o'clock this morning, and informed us that while going home from Sandietown at midnight he found one of the horses quietly grazing in the new road which passes the High School, with part of the pole, and some broken harness attached to it. He took the horse to Mr Bowker's gate, and while tying it up there he heard some splashing in the water and groans. On looking into the place mentioned he found the carriage capsized and literally smashed to pieces, and the other horse lying with its hind quarters in the water and with one of its fore-legs jammed in the springs of the fore carriage, which lay up on the bank. Curiously enough the horse had not a scrap of harness on. Mr Newton roused Mr O'Brien, and got a light, and they managed to free the horse's foot, but the animal did not then get up. Search was made for the driver, who was supposed to have driven over the bank into the hole by mischance, but nothing being seen of him in the hole or on the road round about, Mr Newton, anxious as to his fate, came into town for the assistance of the Police, and calling at our office, we were able to assure him of the driver's safety.

An awful death. James shut down the brickyard and built Mrs Bartlett a cottage.

Timaru Herald, 30 June 1879, Page 3 Inquest.
An enquiry touching the death of Richard Bartlett, who met with in fatal accident at Shears' brickyard on Friday, was held in Stone's Hotel on Saturday morning, before the Coroner, R. Beetham, and a jury of twelve, of whom Mr T. R. Jones was chosen as foreman. Inspector Pender conducted the enquiry. After the jury had viewed the body, the following evidence was taken : Samuel Shears: I am a laborer, and working for my son at his brickyards, Timaru. The deceased has been working for my son at the brink making for eight months. Yesterday he was getting come clay, and was undermining it. The wall was from ten to eleven feet, high on the outside. During the day, and within half an hour of the accident, I cautioned him to come away, as I knew the place was not safe where he was, there by himself. Two of his mates also warned him, but he would not leave. My son was away at Ashburton, and I have charge of the works when he is away. It was about a quarter to five when I last was told the deceased to go away. He was under four feet of the stuff then. I turned to go away, and I heard the fall. When I turned round I found that, the bank had fallen, and could only see his head. I railed all hands to the spot, and in two or three minutes we had the stuff off him. He was all crushed, and was then dead. Dr Williams, who had been sent for, arrived shortly afterwards. The Foreman: Is it a usual thing for one man to be excavating like that? Witness: No. I told him three times to go away, but he would not do so. William Constable:  I am a brickmaker, and I work for Mr Shears. The deceased was working in the brickyard yesterday, falling earth, which he had been in the habit of doing occasionally. The wall was about ten feet high. I told him, about the middle of the day, that I would not like to work there, us it was dangerous. He replied that he did not think so. About four o'clock I saw the earth fall and knock him down. I assisted to take the earth off the body. I heard the last witness say that it was unsafe for the deceased to working there. Dr Williams: Shortly after five o'clock last evening I was called to at tend the deceased at Shears' brickyard. I examined the body, and found that one of the thighs was broken, the cavity of the chest broken in two, and the heart and lungs protruding, as also a great portion of the abdominal viscera ; the legs were fractured, and death meet have been instantaneous. James Shears: I am the owner of the brickyard at which the deceased worked. He had been in my employ for about nine months. He had only been at excavating for about three days. I let a piece of clay to three men to get out, and Bartlett was one. I was away at Ashburton yesterday, and consequently did not see the accident. I saw the deceased working at the clay on a previous day, and he appeared to be careful. The clay was not liable to fall, and though fall of yesterday was the first I have known at my brickyard. This was all the evidence, and the Coroner said that the only question in an inquiry on such an occasion (the cause of death appearing quite plainly) was whether proper supervision had been exercised against the occurrence of accidents to the men in the employ of Mr Shears. Of course he need not say to them that a certain amount of responsibility was thrown upon the shoulders of every workman himself, who was bound to take reasonable precautions for the care of his own life and safety, and it would seem, as far as they could ascertain, that in the case before them there had not been shown anything which was out of the ordinary or common way of risks run in work of that description. No carelessness seemed to be proved against any other than the unfortunate man who came by his death through the accident. Of course if the jury could suggest any remedy against accidents occurring in works of that description, it was quite competent for them to do so. Without retiring, the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Timaru Herald, 6 January 1880, Page 2
Sometime ago as our readers may remember, a man named Bartlett was killed by a fall of earth while working at Mr Shears' brickyard. He left a widow and four young children, and in consequence of a previous accident robbing him of his savings, he left them quite destitute, except that he had paid half the purchase money for a section of land. Since Bartlett's death Mr Shears has completed the purchase on behalf of the widow, and has supplied bricks for, and has built the walls of a cottage. Mr Shears' workmen have contributed a sufficient sum to put the roof on, and now all that is required to make a home for the unfortunate family is a sufficient sum to finish and furnish the cottage. The public arc invited to contribute for this purpose, and a little given towards this object would be money well spent. Mrs Bartlett is m receipt of eight shillings a week from the Benevolent Aid Society, but this amount has at present to be paid for rent, and o; weekly saving would be effected for the family of that amount if the cottage referred to were finished. In support of this appeal it may be urged that the deceased was a very steady and industrious man, and that his leaving his family so ill off was the result of the previous accident we have mentioned rather than to any fault on his part. Subscriptions towards carrying out the plan described will be thankfully received, and may be left with Mr Shears, or at the offices of this journal or the South Canterbury Times

Timaru Herald, 21 November 1879, Page 2
We are glad to observe that work, which had been stopped during the winter months, has been resumed at Shears' brickyard. Since our notice in March last, several improvements have been made in these works, the most noticeable of which is the roofing of the kiln. Formerly Newcastle slack was used in burning the bricks, but now Mr Shears finds that by utilising the heat from the dome of the kiln he can thoroughly dry the Shag Point coal, and so use it with advantage. Another large drying shed, 100 feet long by 60 feet wide, has also been erected. Thirty hands are now employed on the works, and thirteen horses and six drays are kept constantly going. Sixty thousand bricks are being turned out every week, and these are of a larger size than before — the old size being 9 x 2 x 4½ inches, and the new 9 x 3 x 4½ inches. This alteration, small as it may seem to our readers, is fully appreciated by builders and contractors. We hear occasionally of people m the country sending to Christchurch for bricks. It cannot be because they get them cheaper, for the price of our local produce, delivered in the trucks at Timaru station, never exceeds 60s, and is even less for quantities, while Christchurch prices at the yards range from 60s to 70s for bricks of a quality that cannot equal the Timaru article. We can only suppose it is done on the principle that the more expensive a thing is, the better some people consider it. 


Photo of bricks courtesy of Lois Shears, Timaru

Timaru Herald, 28 January 1888, Page 2
C. Bowker, a land agent Has a brickyard for sale.

Mr O'Bryan

Timaru Herald, 27 March 1896, Page 2
The equity of redemption of the brickyard and its appurtenances lately carried on by Mr O'Bryan was offered at auction by Messrs Maclean and Co. at noon yesterday. There was no bond fide offer, and the property was passed in to the mortgagees, the Timaru Building and Investment Society.

Timaru Herald, 28 March 1896, Page 4
IN BANKRUPTCY. RE W. O'BRYAN. A meeting of creditors of W. O'Bryan, brickmaker, Timaru, was held at the Deputy Assignee's office yesterday. In a private examination by the Deputy Assignee the bankrupt stated that lie had been m business as a brickmaker m for about 11 years, for the last eight years by himself. He had £1000 m the partnership originally, his partners being G. Filmer and C. Palliser. Eight years ago bought out the partners for £1000, taking over the land, works, etc., with a liability on them to James Shears of £2675, and £150 for interest and expenses. He paid off the £1000 in about nine months, and seven years ago paid off Shears, giving a mortgage for £2000 to the Timaru Building Society. He had since reduced the mortgage to about £1100 bout four years ago the business fell off very much, owing to the depression in trade. Two years ago, to assist the business, he went into a speculation of exporting horses, by which he lost between £500 and £600. This crippled his working capital, and prevented him from carrying on m a proper manner. Eight weeks ago the Building Society entered into possession of the works and plant under their mortgage, and held possession of everything except the household furniture.

Timaru Herald, 5 November 1897, Page 4
HOFFMANN'S PATENT BRICKS AND FIELD DRAIN PIPES. ALWAYS on Hand Best Burnt Bricks also Fresh Flare Lime. Good water supplied to suburbs. W. O'BRYAN, Steam Brick and Lime Works, College Road off West Town Belt.  

Mr H. B. Kirk

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]
Mr. H. B. Kirk was born in 1842 in the country village of Thorner, in Yorkshire, England. At the end of 1898, he bought the old-established Steam Brick Works at Timaru, where he and his family are now settled. He has extended the works by laying down plant for field pipes for the farmers, and sanitary pipes for the Timaru Borough Council and other public bodies; stench traps, syphons, tapers, junctions and bends, air-bricks, chimney pots, vases and flower-pots, etc. During the forty years of his residence in New Zealand, Mr. Kirk has always been busy, and what money he has made has been spent in the colony. As an employer of labour, he has had no quarrels with his employees, and he and they have always been able to settle their disputes themselves.

Star 26 August 1898, Page 3
Mr H. B. Kirk, the well-known Christchurch brickmaker, has purchased from the Timaru Building Society the brickyard on the south side of the town, known as Shears's or O'Bryen's, which has furnished most of the bricks used in Timaru for years past. There is a large perpetual kiln, patent presses and other plant on the ground, which goes with the freehold.

Timaru Herald, 1 October 1900, Page 3
Mr H. B. Kirk has now got his glazed drain-pipe plant in full working order, and last week burned his second kiln of these necessary commodities. The Timaru brickyard is a busy scene, and while the present boom in building lasts must continue to be so. The big brick kiln is kept going, the drying sheds are kept full, and the brick-making machinery is kept busy. The pressing machine formerly in use is worn out, and cannot be immediately replaced. The machine in use is one of the wire divider sort. The clay, after being broken down from the bank and aerated for some time, is carried by tipping truck on a tramway up an incline to an elevated platform, where it is fed to two large rollers that grind every particle to fineness, and from the rollers the clay falls into a pug-mill, a machine that consumes a lot of steam power in thoroughly kneading the clay by means of knives so arranged as to force the pugged clay out of the mill through an aperture just the size of the largest dimensions of a brick. The bolt of clay comes out tough and smooth and slick and true. The bolt is cut by a frame of taut wires into lots of nine bricks at a time, this being a handy number for carrying to the drying shed. For making drain-pipes, the clay, after passing through the pug-mill, is lifted to the upper platform again, and fed into a perpendicular press, in which archimedian screws force the clay through a tumulus of the size required. The pipe of clay is delivered by the machine continuously, the weight of it being supported by a balanced, sliding shelf, and when a sufficient lengthy of it has issued it is cut off with a wire, and carried away to dry. The length of time required for drying depends, of course, upon the weather, from a fortnight onwards. Before they are dry the pipes are trimmed and the flanges put on by hand, and these have then to dry. The kiln for burning and glazing pipes differs very much from the brick kiln. It is a single chamber 21 xi 14 x 14 feet inside measurement, with a flat-arched roof, and m order to stand the pressure of this flat arch the walls have to be very strongly braced together. This is done by placing very heavy timber posts outside them, tied together over the top by l½in iron rods. The firing is done by means of ten fire holes in the walls, the heat from the fires being guided by chimneys inside the kiln so that it strikes the roof first and is then drawn by a tunnel to the central chimney of the brick kiln, downwards through the articles stacked in the kin. This arrangement ensures an equable distribution of the heat throughout the length and breadth of the kiln. A day and a half of gentle heat and two days or two and a half of brisker fires suffices to burn a stuck of bricks sufficiently They are then merely burned as brick and field pipes are. The glazing required for stronger work and sanitary drains is obtained by a simple yet very curious we may say incomprehensible process. Shovelfuls of salt are frequently thrown into the fires the salt is vapourised and passes into the kiln with the gases of the fire, and combines with the surface of the pipes to form a glass. The kiln being built of brick, of course becomes glazed too, and the first kiln burned absorbed a. great deal of the five bags ol salt used, less than three bags sufficing for the second. The pipes and other things turned out, so far as we could judge, are excellent of their kind, and Mr Kirk, who has had a long experience, says that the Timaru clay is eminently suited for making glazed goods. In addition to pipes, bends and angles, his two first burns included specimens of other articles of builders' and sanitary requisites chimney tops, air bricks, flooring tiles, traps and drain syphons, garden edging, and large garden vases. He has a large stock of moulds of different articles (about 150), including ornamental bricks for string courses and arches, eaves blocks, and other pieces for ornamental construction. These moulds have all to be made of plaster of paris, and a large stock must cost a good deal of money. We hope that Mr Kirk will meet with a good demand for the products of his glazing kiln, and as, so far as we can judge, he can turn out a good article, the local industry might be supported. Mr Kirk himself nets upon that principle. For instance, he uses some Albury coal among the 600 odd tons a year he uses, and insists upon having Mataura brown paper for the peculiar fire-doors needed in the brick kiln. At the present time the works are busy all round, and long may they continue busy.  

The 1881 Lime Kiln on Hall Rd near Kakahu. photo map Historic Place - Category I 
The pot style kiln on Hall 's Rd, built in 1876, was restored by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
 Lime burners: The numerous limestone outcrops in the Kakahu area encouraged entrepreneurs to build lime-burning kilns there in the 1860s and 1870s. The stone was quarried and transported to the kilns by horses, sometimes in a skip or trolley pulled along wooden rails. Although the building of the kiln was originally credited to James Walker and Charles Morton McDougall, it is now thought that Alexander Fergusson, a Scottish stonemason in partnership with George Munro, a monumental sculptor, built it in 1879-80. It was called the Pioneer Lime kiln, Kakahu. Good photo in The Geraldine News 18 Oct. 2012

In 1886/7 the operation of the kiln was taken over by James Shears. Shears experienced difficulty in finding workers for the kiln and in 1887 the property was leased to G. Hornsey and Co. Benjamin Shears (brother of James) operated the kiln in the 1890s but with a diminished need for lime and the heavy running costs associated with production, operations probably ceased about 1897. The stone base course of an old brick kiln built by Ben Shears c.1895 remains near the quarry face. Benjamin Shears, a brickmaker who learned his trade on the Kent brick fields, had works near Hornsey's. All these men built their own homes from local materials. Shears' house was daub and wattle, with a mud floor. In a pit he mixed clay and mud and water, bringing it to the right consistency by driving a horse backwards and forwards across it. The resulting mixture was then spread thickly on the floor area and allowed to dry out and set. A hard, durable surface resulted. Benjamin died in 1925. 

 South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project